Conflict Resolution – How to Go About It?

Get a group of people together for duration of time day after day and no matter how well they get along and like each other, a few misunderstandings/disagreements will crop up. This is natural and expected.

Nobody likes conflict; we’d rather go about our day without any confrontations than sit and discuss about what is making us uncomfortable or unhappy. But sweeping emotions under the carpet is not a solution. When we ignore a conflict and try to act normal, we are only suppressing those negative emotions. Neither is this healthy nor does it resolve anything. Instead, if we actually try resolving the conflict, we move ahead both personally and professionally.

When we address a conflict and find a solution, not only is our mind unburdened, our work place is also a happier one. But unfortunately, all of us have this innate tendency to put-off any sort of confrontation. We need to look at conflicts as a way to communicate and solve an issue which will in the long run benefit us and our organization. By understanding that conflicts are actually healthy when tackled right, we can stop avoiding conflicts and move towards resolving them.

What Is Conflict Resolution?

Conflict resolution means using peaceful, non-aggressive methods to solve a conflict. A person in a leadership or managerial position needs to know how to resolve a conflict as not addressing it will hinder the growth of the organization and may lead to unhappy employees eventually quitting the organization.

Conflict Resolution – The Process

Being a mediator in a conflict is not easy but by following these simple tips, we can set the tone for a peaceful and open discussion.

  • To resolve the conflict, we need to start at the cause. Sometimes the conflict grows so big that we lose sight of what started it in the first place. Identifying the cause is the first step towards getting the opposing sides to agree on what set off the situation.
  • While figuring out the cause, it is necessary to delve into the issue thoroughly and make sure no questions remain answered.
  • Address the issue at a neutral venue. The place should also guarantee privacy so that views can be aired unhindered.
  • While discussing the issue, make sure both sides are given enough time to set forth their views. Ensure a calm discussion by setting some protocols at the beginning. Remain unbiased and listen to both sides with an open mind.
  • Sometimes, it might be necessary to talk individually to those involved to get a better idea about what they are feeling.
  • As a mediator, it is also important to identify sensitive issues which trigger conflicts.
  • Once you have got all the inputs, a workable solution for both parties has to be identified. Involve them in this too and let everyone set forth their suggestions.
  • While mediators can suggest ways to resolve the issue, rather than telling the involved parties what to do, the solution will be more effective if it comes from those involved. This way, they will also put in extra effort towards resolving as the idea came from them in the first place.
  • While having reached a workable solution is good progress, it is necessary to keep taking stock of the situation at regular intervals to make sure things are taking a turn for the better.
  • If this is not happening, further intervention may be required.

Conflict Resolution – Skills

Effective conflict resolution requires some key soft skills, a few of which are discussed below.

Patience:

  • Often, ego takes over in a conflict and prevents people from accepting a mistake. This can make it really hard for the mediator as progress just does not seem to happen.
  • Such a situation demands patience as what seems obvious to us will not be making any impact on the concerned person.
  • All we can do is take some time and give everyone a chance to talk openly as this itself will cool tempers.

Emotional Assessment:

  • Emotions can help us judge the mood of a situation.
  • Being aware of a tense, volatile atmosphere will help us adopt a gentler approach which will in turn help in soothing frayed tempers and nipping any possible outbursts.

Ensuring an Optimistic Atmosphere:

  • Positive vibes while resolving a conflict definitely puts everyone involved at ease.
  • Arriving at a solution that people are not happy about is not going to work in the long run.
  • It is necessary to ensure everyone’s commitment for effective conflict resolution and ensuring a positive atmosphere facilitates arriving at an amicable solution.

Staying Unbiased:

  • As already mentioned, listening to views with an impartial attitude is important but more than that it is necessary to stay focused on the issue and not on the people and their attributes which we feel are hindering progress.

Two-Way Communication:

  • Communication is the cornerstone for any good relationship.
  • Just by communicating properly, most issues can be sorted.
  • Good communication leads to better relationships which will make handling future issues easier and smoother.
  • We cannot ensure that no conflicts arise but we can ensure they get solved easily by establishing a good communication channel.

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